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Pro Shop: Preview 2003

NIKE TA2
Every one of Nike's thirty-eight staff players on the PGA Tour, except for the two with specific balls named after them (Tiger Woods and David Duval), has switched to one of the company's new TA2 Balls ($40). The TA2 LNG version (pictured), engineered with an emphasis on distance, flies higher and with lower spin than the TA2 SPN, which has a slightly softer cover and a denser dimple pattern to spin more and bore into the wind. The heart of both three-piece balls is the innovative core (made, if you must know, of neodymium-catalyzed polybutadiene), which Nike says propels the ball faster than ever. Call 888-799-6453 or visit nikegolf.com.

STRATA TOUR ACE
The latest ball from Strata is the Tour Ace ($36.95), distinctive for its four-piece construction and the playing-card suit symbols (spade, heart, diamond, club) used instead of conventional numbers on each ball. In the center of the ball is a soft pea-size inner core, which the company says interacts with the firmer core around it to produce low spin and high velocity on drives and more spin on the midirons and short irons. Call 800-772-5346 or visit stratagolf.com.

PRECEPT LADY DIAMOND
Precept's ball breakthrough of four years ago, the MC Lady, was not exactly long in the tooth, but Precept gave her a makeover anyway. With a new "muscle-fiber" core designed to increase initial velocity off the clubface, the new two-piece Lady Diamond ($30) is supposed to launch a bit hotter off the face on drives and fly a bit higher, all the better for distance. The downside for some golfers is relatively low spin off the irons, but the Lady holds her own in the feel department, especially around the green. Call 800-358-6319 or visit preceptgolf.com.

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